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Pan-African Conference on Community Land Rights identifies urgent reforms of collective land rights and women’s rights as essential to ensure social peace in Africa

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Pan-African Conference on Community Land Rights identifies urgent reforms of collective land rights and women’s rights as essential to ensure social peace in Africa

For three days, we learned about the progress made and the challenges encountered in securing collective land rights since 2019.

WASHINGTON DC, United States of America, October 15, 2021 / APO Group / –

Delegates from 12 countries gathered in Lomé, Togo for the 3rd Conference of the Network of African Land Institutions for Community Rights (ALIN); They highlighted the successes and challenges of community land rights reforms underway in their countries, and mapped out a roadmap for the future; The conference, organized by the government of Togo, was initiated by the Rights and Resources Initiative (www.RightsandResources.org) and co-organized by International Land Coalition, Africa.

From October 12-14, 36 ministers, senior officials and civil society representatives from 12 African countries gathered in Lomé, Togo, to exchange lessons and new ideas on implementing legal reforms aimed at enforcing indigenous and community land rights in the region. Delegates agreed that these reforms were the most urgent solution to ongoing land disputes between foreign investors, local authorities and communities in the region.

The occasion was the 3rd Regional Conference of National Land Institutions on Securing Community Land Rights in Africa, which capitalized on the growing political momentum ahead of the next Conference on Land Policy in Africa (CLPA-2021) (https : //bit.ly/2Xdqm9l), Biodiversity and Climate CoPs, and recent legislative advances in collective land rights across the African continent.

The conference, held both in person and virtually, was led by the Rights and Resources Initiative (RRI) (www.RightsandResources.org), a global coalition of indigenous and community rights-holder organizations. It was supported by the International Land Coalition (ILC) Africa (https://bit.ly/3j6Fdu1), and co-organized by the Togolese Ministry of Town Planning, Housing and Land Reform (MUHRF) and Rural Self-Promotion for Sustainable Human Development (ADHD).

“Writer Mike Hallan is shouting, My land my life, my life in the making (My land, my life in the making) because the earth is at the center of anything we can do to shape our lives,” Mr. Tsolegnanou Koffi, from Togo Minister of Urban Establishments, Housing and Land Reform in his opening speech. “This is why the African Union’s Agenda 2063 declares that land governance must be the engine of development on the continent.

Minister Koffi added that the protection of indigenous and community land rights is above all a matter of security and peacebuilding for Africa. “If we guarantee community land rights, we guarantee social peace,” he said in an interview.

Research (https://bit.ly/3BO9KUL) shows that when land rights are secured, communities and natural resources both benefit from better conservation, livelihoods and economic progress. However, while several African states have passed important laws recognizing community land rights – such as the Democratic Republic of Congo, Kenya, Liberia and Madagascar – implementation remains a challenge. The government of Togo has recently made commendable progress in this area, and organizers have applauded its success.

“It is not by chance that Togo was chosen to host this conference. Its 2018 Land Code recognizes land and customary rights that are not evident in many countries through an inclusive and participatory approach that also recognizes women‘s land rights, ”said Dr Solange Bandiaky. -Badji, RRI coordinator “This conference is just the start of the partnership between RRI and Togo, including a new project to help secure the rights of the Bato community on their traditional lands.

The delegates of the International Facility for Land and Forest Systems also pledged to work alongside the government of Togo to implement its 2018 Land Code. Launched in 2012 by RRI, the Tenure Facility (https://thetenurefacility.org ) is the only international financial mechanism to foster coordination between civil society and governments to implement land rights reforms for indigenous and local communities.

Audace Kubwimana, Regional Coordinator for Africa at ILC Africa said: “Over the course of three days, we learned about the progress made and the challenges faced in securing collective land rights since 2019. We hope that the plans for The national actions developed this week by the various country delegations will lead to further progress towards sustainable, equitable, resilient and secure community lands by 2030. ”

Delegates from Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Ghana, Côte d’Ivoire, Kenya, Liberia and Madagascar shared recently adopted or ongoing land reform legislation in their respective countries, stressing the importance of addressing the lack of awareness of these reforms and other obstacles to ensure that local communities can more fully participate in these processes.

Ellen Pratt, Land Use and Management Commissioner with the Liberian Land Authority, explained that knowledge sharing and collaboration with a wide range of stakeholders is essential for land reforms, especially in relation to concerns women’s land rights. “Liberia has a law that protects and strengthens women’s land rights, but we have seen a gap between policy and implementation,” she said. “Women need dedicated advocacy, sensitization and capacity building to help them not only take a seat at the table, but actively defend their rights.

Pratt added that the Liberian Land Authority is the first and only government agency in Liberia to have implemented a gender mainstreaming strategy in all of its programs. He now plans to conduct awareness campaigns targeting women to inform them of their land rights as enshrined in the constitution.

Conference participants charted the way forward to achieve collective land rights reforms to improve the lives of millions of indigenous and local communities, especially the women among them. They identified and endorsed 10 recommendations to overcome common obstacles to the implementation of laws and policies guaranteeing these rights. These recommendations can be viewed here (https://bit.ly/3FOhCrP). RRI and its coalition of rights holders will use these recommendations to inform the future ALIN strategy.

Patrick Kipalu, RRI’s Africa Program Director, noted that in the future, confidence, confidence and the ability to carry out effective reforms can only be strengthened through credible data, pilot programs, full transparency and a sustained dialogue between key actors, in particular between civil society and governments. .

He concluded with a sobering reminder of the urgency of recognizing the land rights of indigenous peoples and local communities in the context of global climate and conservation crises.

“More than half of all land in the world is owned or usually used by indigenous peoples and local communities… yet only 10% of this land formally belongs to these groups,” Kipalu said. “This huge gap in the recognition of their rights to own, conserve and benefit from their land threatens not only the survival of millions of people, but the security of our planet and our future.”

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